Friday, January 25, 2013

2300AD: Star Marines - Episode 5

“Who ever heard of someone getting their legs shot in an elevator.”
PVT Arben “The Noob” Johnstone, Dunkelheim, 2302

As gunfire died down and building and vehicle fires roared, the squad rallied just outside the entrance to the colony’s main petrochem facility. The squad members who were wounded received first aid and then Biff went to work on Ms. Green who had been nearly killed by the insane clown governor, the Sung having a highly advanced medical technology. Although she was soon out of danger, the corporate rep was barely conscious.

There were still some convicts hiding in the abandoned sections of the settlement, just beyond. One even tried taking potshot at LT Boomer but the round merely ricocheted off his armor. CPL Cusmano, who was still in a sniper position on a bluff overlooking the settlement, silenced that hold out.

It was soon discovered that there were five workers who had been kept prisoners in the colony petrochem facility. These were Texan civilians that the convicts had kept alive to make sure the well-head and refinery kept operating, probably the only reason the Kafers left any of them alive. The workers’ leader, Russ Katurian, told them that the Kafers had taken most of the non-convict population, nearly two thousand, off on the trains a few weeks after their occupation of the planet began. He did not know where or why they were taken.

None of the workers knew anything about running the maglev train, but said there were some German colonists who, like them, had been forced by the convicts to work for the Kafers. As the train was nearly ready to depart, they must have been somewhere nearby.

Fireteam 1 under SGT Korand was sent to find them. The first place they decided to look was the rail control tower overlooking the train yard. The Noob opened the door on the ground floor and the fireteam rushed in. Korand, the Noob, and LaPetre headed up the stairs single file. Machinegun Lenny, who was a little overweight and a lot lazy, decided to ride up the three floors in the still operational elevator, whispering that he would take any enemy in the flank this way.

LePetre warned him that the elevator could easily turn into a little square coffin.

Lenny responded, “Sure, you’re right, that’s what we call them in Lower Alberta.”

“Are there that many elevator shootings in Lower Alberta?” asked Gaylord.

“No, elevators are just dangerous there.”

“Probably because you piss on the them to turn them off,” suggested the Noob.

Concluded that he probably hadn’t made the best choice, Lenny decided to ride the elevator from its roof. However, as he attempted to climb there through an access panel, his bulk became stuck half-way through.

“Don’t worry,” said the Noob, “who ever heard of someone getting their legs shot in an elevator. Even if you do, it can’t be a major wound.”

“Yeah, but my balls are on that side!”

By this time, Korand approached the second story landing. He heard a small series of thuds and a grenade rolled down the steps towards him.

He ordered the rest of the fireteam to charge forward up the stairs. They were greeted by a hail of assualt rifle fire. Then the grenade exploded at the Noob's feet. Amazingly, neither the grenade or bullets penetrated their light armor.

Korand reached the top of the stair and confronted the convict there. Grabbing the goon's assualt rifle by the barrel, Korand shoved a pistol into the convict’s face and ordered him to surrender. The convict cursed him. The Noob had come up by now and shot the thug in the knee cap. The conivict cursed again. Korand shot him in the shoulder.

The sound of the grenade going off gave Lenny the impetus to free himself and he leapt onto the roof of the elevator. He soon opened the door to the third floor and jumped out into the hallway. He found himself on the third floor directly behind another convict who was too busy firing at the rest of the fireteam to notice.

Lenny struck at the convict with butt of the machine gun, knocking the convict down the steps, brekaing several bones on the way down. He landed directly into Korand and the rest of the fireteam and his wounded college.

By this point, both convicts decided to be more cooperative.

A quick interrogation proved that the convicts did not know how to operate the train but, after some persuading they revealed that two train workers were in a housing tower across the tracks. When this information was relayed to LT Boomer, the rest of the squad rushed the housing unit. The single convict guard, having seen the devastation that the squad had wrought on his cohorts, surrendered without a fight. The two rail workers, Gunter and Franz, were more than willing to help the Marines.

Fearing that the airstrike against New Lubbock could begin at any moment, the Marines rushed to prepare the two-car maglev train for the trip to Site Beta. The squad discovered that in the fight with the convicts, a stray rocket round had hit the Uranus armored vehicle, knocking out the drive train, imobilizing the vehicle. The heavy laser was still operational so, using a crane, it was loaded into the top storage bay in the front car. A couple of light mobility vehicles that the convicts had been using were loaded onto the rear car along with every small arm and round of ammunition that could be salvaged. An oxy-torch assembly was also loaded to cut firing slots into the thin walls of the passenger compartments.

Korand and the LT came up with the idea of disguising as convicts escorting captured Marines to the Kafers at Site Beta. They grabbed some of the less disgusting convicts’ clothes as disguises. The rest of the Marines were put in the rear passenger compartment with their weapons stacked and armor off, in case a Kafer patrol wanted to inspect the train.

They soon set off.

The fight in New Lubbock and its aftermath had used up precious time. They now only had about four earth days left to get to and back from Site Beta which was a good 300 kilometers from New Lubbock. Fortunately, Gunter and Franz were experienced and the train was soon reaching a speed of over 200 klicks per hour and should reach Site Bata around the time of the local sunset.

About 80 klicks out from New Lubbock, Gunter slowed the train. He told the LT that there was a tunnel through the mountain ridge ahead that was normally guarded by the Kafer.

The outpost soon came in sight: a large observation tower with a massive pulse gun stood above the tunnel. Several sandbag emplacements protected by barbed wire lined the cliffs around the tunnel. All the positions were manned by Kafers who looked surprisingly aware. Some Kafer officer must have been laying it on pretty thick with his baseball bat to get their adrenaline pumping to boost their intelligence.

Once the train stopped, a Kafer officer with two soldiers and a human translator approached the train. Korand went to greet them. The translator was a convict who was suspicious, not recognizing Korand. Korand cut things short and said he had Marine prisoners to take to Site Beta. This distracted the Kafer officer who demanded, in a harsh, clacking attempt at English, to see one of the prisoners for questioning.

The Noob volunteered, not realizing how Kafers interrogated their prisoners. Just as the Kafer began to slice into the screaming Noob, Korand interrupted and convinced the Kafer that the Marines were just common soldiers who would get smarter with the pain and stress of torture.

The Kafer told them they could proceed. However, he placed a Kafer escort onboard to make sure the Marines didn’t cause trouble. A Kafer junior officer installed itself in the drive cabin while another joined Korand in the observer’s position on top of the front car. Two more Kafers acted as guards for the Marines. Jutta, Naci, and the Texans hide themselves amongst the cargo mounted on top of the rear car. Gaylord, Sanchez, Biff, and the wounded Ms. White remained hidden in the Uranus vehicle.

The train rolled on and covered about 100 klicks in short order. A short distance outside of Neue Zweibrucken the train sensors indicated that a number of the magnets were out up ahead.

The train rolled to stop in a bleak area of desert between two big stretches of sandy kamelinsekt habitats. Korand and his new Kafer friend escorted Gunter and Franz to inspect the break in the line. They found several Earnshaw couplers on the main rail were out and would need to be replaced. Fortunately, as this was a frontier system, each vehicle carried spare parts and tools to repair the line.

Just as Gunter and Franz completed their examination, a high-pitched chittering was heard. The ground in the habitats on both sides of the rails began to collapse and dozens of the giant kamelinsekts began to charge out of the resulting holes. These grotesque mutations were close to four meters tall with razor sharp beaks and talons. They skittered rapidly across the desert floor towards the train.

Korand radioed into Boomer of the attack and began firing with his assault rifle at the oncoming bugs. The Kafer fully alerted now, joined him. Gunter and Franz ran towards the door to the cabin.

Boomer convinced the Kafer officer that only the Marines could help them repulse the creatures and asked that they be re-armed. The Kafer reluctantly agreed.

Gunter and Franz ducked into the cabin and Korand followed quickly after them. Just as the Kafer was about to enter, Korand shut the cabin door in its face. Before the Kafer could try to force its way in, the bugs were upon it.

The horde hit the starboard side of the train first. They soon began to tear gaping holes into the thin metal walls. By this time, however, the Marines had rearmed themselves and the Texans and Dunkelhiemers had emerged from hiding.

In the control cabin, the Kafer officer frantically squawked into a communication device, no doubt reporting the attack. It was cut short when Boomer fired his pistol into the back of the Kafer officer’s head. Boomer then smashed the communications device.

At the rear car, the Dunkelheimers and Texans began firing away at the bugs. At point blank range, even the archaic ammunition of their surplus assault rifles hit home, killing dozens of the bugs. Each death was met with an exhilarated “yee-haaa!” from the Texans.

Gaylord began to direct the laser at the bug, flashing them out one by one. Cusmanno began firing her grenade launcher into the black skittering mob, blasting legs off with each hit. Kubich fired some of their precious missiles into the crowd, knocking great holes into their black and grey ranks.

After a lengthy firefight, the bugs were killed or driven off. When they realized they were safe, everyone gave a cheer of relief including the two surviving Kafers who roared their relief to be still alive. Then Boomer’s voice came over the Marines’ com link, “Kill the Kafers.”

The humans’ guns roared.

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